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Gay v. Pfister

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

June 17, 2013

ANTHONY GAY, Petitioner,
v.
GARY PFISTER, Warden, Respondent.

ORDER & OPINION

JOE BILLY McDADE, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Anthony Gay's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 1). Respondent has filed a Response (Doc. 16). Petitioner was given the opportunity to file a reply to Respondent's Response but he failed to file one. (Doc. 4 at 4). For the following reasons, Petitioner's § 2254 Petition is DENIED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner committed aggravated battery on July 19, 2000, by spraying a liquid substance onto a correctional officer at the Pontiac Correctional Center where Petitioner was incarcerated. People v. Gay, Livingston County Case No. 03-CF-62. (2004). Petitioner was indicted for the July 19, 2000 incident on February 25, 2003, approximately thirty-one months after the incident occurred. (Doc.17, Exh. A at 2). Petitioner was found guilty following an April 2004 jury trial and was sentenced to six years in prison to be served consecutively with Petitioner's other sentences. ( Id. at 3). On appeal, Petitioner argued that the trial court erred in letting him represent himself. ( Id. ). The state appellate court affirmed the conviction in March 2008, and Petitioner did not seek further review in the Illinois Supreme Court. ( Id. ).

In November 2008, Petitioner filed an amended post-conviction petition in which he alleged, as relevant here, the following claims: (1) the citations that the Department of Corrections issued for his conduct did not provide him with sufficient notice that his behavior would expose him to criminal prosecution, and (2) the State subverted his constitutional rights to due process and to a speedy trial by tactically delaying certain indictments. (Doc. 17, Exh. B at 3). In May 2009, Petitioner filed a supplemental petition for post-conviction relief, adding a third claim that his ninety-seven-year aggregate sentence resulting from this case and several other convictions violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. ( Id. at 3-4). The state trial court dismissed Petitioner's post-conviction petition on December 10, 2009. (Doc. 9-1 at 13).

On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth District affirmed the trial court's decision, relying in part on an earlier opinion resolving Petitioner's identical claims for similar convictions and sentences. (Doc. 17, Exh. B at 2). The court found that due process was not violated because petitioner did not show that he was substantially and unfairly prejudiced. ( Id. at 7). Moreover, the court rejected Petitioner's characterization that his aggregate sentence of ninety-seven years was a de facto life sentence which amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. ( Id. at 6). In addition, the court found that Petitioner's habeas corpus relief should be limited only to alleged constitutional violations occurring in the instant case. ( Id. ). Petitioner filed a petition for leave to appeal the appellate court judgment, which the Illinois Supreme Court denied in September 2012. (Doc. 17, Exhs. H & I).

In October 2012, Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 Petition in this Court raising the following arguments: (1) his due process rights were violated by the State's failure to give him notice that "his conduct was a violation of state statute" and would "lead to criminal charges;" (2) the State intentionally delayed indictments, violating his speedy trial rights; (3) his aggregate sentences violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 1 at 5-8). The Court dismissed Petitioner's first claim, pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings for the United States District Courts. (Doc. 4 at 3).

LEGAL STANDARD

Twenty-eight U.S.C. § 2254 empowers federal district courts to hear petitions for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in state custody on the grounds that the petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States. A federal court may not grant relief on claims that have been adjudicated on the merits by state courts unless the state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, " or rested on an "unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Accordingly, a petitioner must show that the state court's ruling on his or her claim "was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement." Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786-87 (2011).

A state court's decision is "contrary to" clearly established federal law when it is "substantially different from the relevant precedent" of the Supreme Court, or it "confronts a set of facts that are materially indistinguishable from" the Supreme Court precedent and nevertheless reaches a different result. Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405-06 (2000). In reviewing reasonableness, "it is not an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law for a state court to decline to apply a specific legal rule that has not been squarely established by the Supreme Court." Knowles v. Mirzayance, 129 S.Ct. 1411, 1419 (2009). Thus, federal habeas review is limited to a deferential inquiry of the reasonableness, rather than the absolute correctness of a state court decision. See Harrington, 131 S.Ct. at 786; Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1426 (2011); Mosley v. Atchison, 689 F.3d 838, 844 (7th Cir. 2012). As such, the issue before this court is whether the state court unreasonably applied clearly established federal law in dismissing Petitioner's petition for post-conviction relief.

DISCUSSION

1. Pre-indictment Delay Claim

Petitioner first alleges that the State subverted his speedy trial rights by staggering the indictments in his aggravated battery cases. (Doc. 1 at 7). This claim is mistakenly brought, as the right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment is ordinarily not implicated until formal indictment. Unites States v. Lovasco, 431 U.S. 783, 788-89 (1977).

A pre-indictment delay may violate due process, however, if the delay (1) causes a defendant substantial prejudice, and (2) was an intentional device to gain a tactical advantage over the accused. United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307, 324 (1971). The prejudice alleged, though, must be specific and concrete. United States v. Hagler, 700 F.3d 1091, 1099 (7th Cir. 2012) (finding that a ten year delay in indicting defendant that resulted in witnesses' fading memories did not prejudice defendant in an actual and substantial way). Even if a defendant demonstrates actual and substantial prejudice, the Court must still balance the potential prejudice against government interests. See Lovasco, 431 U.S. at 790 (holding that eighteen month pre-indictment delay did not violate due process, even if the defendant might have been prejudiced by lapse of time); United States v. Sowa, 34 ...


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